Make Money Appear Before Your Eyes

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In this optics activity, learners use water to make a coin "appear" and "disappear." Use this activity to demonstrate how light refracts and introduce light as waves. This activity includes an explanation of light as waves and an article about refraction.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
Under 5 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • An opaque cup or bowl
  • A piece of transparent cellophane tape
  • A coin
  • A glass of water


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
    • Light and Optics
      • Reflection and Refraction
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Optical Society of America, 2008